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When it comes to choosing the right hair care products, determining your hair type is absolutely essential for knowing which products would work best for your hair. In fact, many of your top hair concerns or problems may stem from simply using the wrong products. By knowing your hair type, you can find the proper balance that your hair needs and end your bad hair days for good. Here are the four factors that can help you determine what type of hair you actually have.


 Hair sticking up to show the diameter of the hair strands

Photo Credit: Veronica Ridge, Redken Artist

The first way to discover what kind of hair you have is by determine the diameter of your hair (a.k.a the width of your strands). Now, your hair’s diameter has nothing to do with the amount hair you actually have. It’s all about how wide the individual strands are.

To find out the width, start by taking a single strand of hair and laying it flat on a table. If you can barely see the hair or feel it between your fingertips, then you have fine hair. If the hair strand looks thick and appears to be textured, then the hair is coarse. If your hair is somewhere in-between, then you have a moderate or medium width.

Knowing this will help you better determine which types of products you should gravitate towards. For instance, coarse hair has a lot of texture, is prone to frizz, and often doesn’t retain water as well as other hair types. In order to hydrate those strands and ward off frizz, those with coarse hair should use more moisturizing products.


 Braided hair used to show hair type

Photo Credit: Sean Godard, Redken Artist

For our purposes, density refers to how much hair you actually have. To find out your hair’s density, take a front section of your hair and pull it to the side. If you can visibly see sections of your scalp underneath or through the hair, then your hair is thin. If you barely see your scalp at all, your hair is thick. If it’s somewhere in-between, then your hair has a medium density.

Your hair’s diameter has nothing to do with the density of your hair—medium diameter does not necessarily mean medium density. The two don’t always go hand-in-hand. Density is dependent on the number of strands you have; not how thick they are. Basically, you can have fine hair that is thick or have coarse hair that is thin and any number of combinations in-between.


Woman with wet hair used to show hair type

 Photo Credit: Redken Official

Porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb moisture or product. Knowing how porous your hair is can help you determine what kind of chemical treatments your hair can withstand as well as what type of products you should be putting on your hair. An easy way to determine your hair’s porosity is by placing a single strand of hair into a bowl of water. If the hair sinks to the bottom, your hair has a high porosity as it’s absorbing all the moisture. If your hair floats on top of the water, your hair as a low porosity and doesn’t absorb moisture easily. Lastly, if the hair floats somewhere in the middle of the water, it has a normal porosity meaning that it is well balanced.

What does all this talk about porosity mean for you? Well, if your hair has a low porosity that means the cuticle lays flat, so water often sits on the outside of the hair and doesn’t get absorbed. Those with low porosity often find that it takes their hair longer to dry and that products tend to build up on their hair rather than sinking in. In order to avoid this, evenly distribute products through your hair and apply products to slightly damp hair.

If you have highly porous hair, then your strands have gaps or tears in the cuticle that may be a result from chemical hair services, heat styling or a variety of other damages. This means that when you apply product, your hair soaks it up quickly meaning you often find yourself needing to apply more. Those with high porosity find that their hair dries quickly, yet doesn’t feel hydrated or nourished. For this hair type, try to avoid heat that may further dry out your strands and look for hydrating hair options that will give your hair an abundance of moisture.


 Woman with curly hair used to show hair type

Photo Credit: Brit Watkins

When talking about the shape of your hair, we are referring to bends (or lack thereof) in your hair. If your hair doesn’t have any bends or noticeable creases, then your hair is straight. If there are slight “S” shape bends to the hair, your hair is wavy. Seeing tighter curves, but no spirals? Your hair is curly. Lastly, if your hair has obvious ringlets, you have spiral curls.

Once you have your hair’s full workup, you can be better informed when choosing your products. Still, don’t know which products you should be picking up? Just look at the label. Products often state on the packaging which hair type they are catering to. Look for all of your key hair type terms on when shopping for products and you’ll always end up with a product that’s going to work for you.

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